From two-time RITA Award–winning author Carla Laureano comes a story of romance, transformation, and the beauty of belonging.
Los Angeles interior designer and former foster kid Kendall Green is in high demand, both for her impeccable eye and for her uncanny ability to uncover the provenance of any piece. But for all her success, skyrocketing costs have put her California home and her business in jeopardy. Then an unexpected inheritance provides a timely solution: a grandmother she never knew has left her a group of historic properties in a tiny Colorado town on the edge of ruin.
To young, untried mayor Gabriel Brandt, Jasper Lake is more than another small town—it’s the place that saved his life. Now, seeing the town slowly wither and die, he’s desperate to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, his vision is at odds with a local developer who wants to see the town razed and rebuilt as a summer resort. He’s sure that he can enlist the granddaughter of one of its most prominent former citizens to his cause—until he meets Kendall and realizes that not only does she know nothing of her own history, she has no interest in reviving a place that once abandoned her.
In order to save his beloved town, Gabe must first help Kendall unravel the truth of her own provenance—and Kendall must learn that in order to embrace the future, sometimes you have to start with the past.
I enjoyed reading Provenance and visiting the charming small town of Jasper Lake in the Colorado high country. Kendall was only five years old when she was abandoned at a day care center because her mom failed to collect her. She is haunted by not knowing what happened to her birth mother, which led to her growing up in the foster care system. Kendall is fiercely independent and believes she can only rely on herself. She rents an expensive home in Pasadena, California, with her interior design assistant that’s the home base for her business. Her business specialty is restoring historic homes.
Gabe is a town planner who has returned to Jasper Lake from Detroit to save his maternal grandparents’ home town. His mother sent him to live with his grandparents when he was a young teen because he was on a destructive path and needed straightening out. Gabe’s grandfather runs the Inn at Jasper Lake, and all the businesses have been struggling since a major flood a few years earlier. Gabe’s attachment to Jasper Lake inspires him to run for mayor. Now he’s the mayor, he’s determined to save the town from a ruthless developer who is intent on building a resort that would forever change the character of Jasper Lake.
Kendall is stunned to learn that her maternal grandmother passed away almost five years ago, and Kendall is the sole heir of a row of historic lakefront homes in Jasper Lake. The houses are situated in the middle of a parcel of land that a developer wants to turn into a large scale resort. The rent on Kendall’s Pasadena home is large, and the annual increases are squeezing her finances too tight. Selling her inheritance appears to be Kendall’s best solution to keep a roof over her head and her business afloat.
Sparks fly when Kendall arrives in Jasper Lake and meets Gabe. His family background is also complicated, and he’s confronted with family issues that impact on his current circumstances. Gabe assists Kendall in claiming her inheritance by the tight deadline, and she stays at his grandfather’s inn.
Kendall and Gabe are drawn to each other despite a number of complications, including Kendall not sharing Gabe’s faith. The faith element in the story is strong, and both Gabe and Kendall wrestle with faith issues. The story includes themes of forgiveness, redemption, and parallels with the prodigal son Biblical story.
I highly recommend Provenance to contemporary romance readers who enjoy small town romances set in the mountains that address problems associated with historic home preservation and urban planning.
I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley.